Now is the time for holiday celebrations, with seasonal events scheduled every week, and this weekend, the Christmas spirit comes with a festive Latino flourish.
The annual Posada de Navidena show, presented by the Rodney Strong Vineyards Dance Series, returns Friday for its 12th straight year at Santa Rosa’s Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, with dancing and music by some 25 members of Ballet Folklorico de Sacramento.
On Saturday, America’s first all-woman mariachi ensemble — Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles — makes its premiere Weill Hall appearance at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park.
The Los Angeles troupe was founded in 1994 by maestro and teacher Jóse Hernàndez, who perceived a need to train women in the long male-dominated tradition of mariachi.
“When he started, he saw that 50 percent of his students were little girls, and they had no one to look up to,” said Jeanette Martinez, a Mariachi Reyna guitarist who also works as a career advisor for students at the University of California at Riverside.
Most of the dozen musicians in the ensemble work at other full-time jobs and some have young children, Martinez said.
“You can see we truly love music,” she said. “At the end of the day, we don’t go home. We go to rehearsal.”
For its Christmas show in Rohnert Park, the company will combine traditional mariachi tunes with holiday standards, but be prepared for some twists.
“Some of the traditional mariachi songs were all about men complaining about women,” Martinez said. “We have some new songs and some new interpretations. It makes us unique. We bring a lot of enthusiasm and style to our shows. ”
At Luther Burbank Center, Friday’s event salutes the 400-year old Mexican tradition of Posada Navidena, marked by nine days of processions reenacting the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Ballet Folklorico de Sacramento, under the artistic direction of Juan Luis Torres, works to keep its annual performances fresh and inventive. Expect not only a procession, but a pinata scene and a visit from The Three Wise Men, as well. “You can come every year and see something different,” said Abraham Perez, administrative director of the Instituto Mazatlan Artes de Sacramento, home to the professional Ballet Folklorico performance company. “We’re pretty proud of that.”
In addition to the stage performance, the Luther Burbank Center is adding a couple of touches of its own to the event.
At 6 p.m., before the show, families can take part in free arts and crafts projects in the lobby, and there will be a performance by the center’s own LBC Mariachi Ensemble, led by Jose Soto. The audience is invited to stay after the show for its own candlelit procession through the center’s atrium.
“We started working to support our Latino audience a long time ago. We brought together members of the community in order to ask the question of how we could serve the entire community, including Latinos. The Posada program, and also our annual Fiesta de Independenica, came out of that work,” said Tracy Sawyer, coordinator for community engagement at Luther Burbank Center.
If You Go
What: Posada Navidena with Ballet Folklorico de Sacramento, presented by the Rodney Strong Vineyards Dance Series
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7
Where: Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 55 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa
Admission: $10; $5 for children; $2 lap pass for children younger than 2
Information: 707-546-3600, lutherburbankcenter.org
What: Navidad Mexicana, with Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Where: Weill Hall, Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park
Information: 866-955-6040, sonoma.edu